Nature

A group of Northern Light chasers have discovered a mysterious new aurora light….and called it STEVE.

Pic by Paul Zizka/Caters News

The phenomenon, which appears as a bright purple streak across the sky, was spotted by a group of Northern Light enthusiasts who go by the name of the Alberta Aurora Chasers on Facebook.

Photographs shared with the Facebook group – for members of the public interested in taking and sharing pictures of the Northern Lights and Aurora Borealis – would often feature the mysterious arc but no one knew what it was.

At a loss at what to call the light, the group started to referring to it as Steve and the name quickly caught on.

Pic by Paul Zizka/Caters News

Group member, Paul Zizka, managed to capture some images of the extraordinary sight during a trip to Alberta in Canada.

The 37-year-old said: “The feature is a slightly bent arc that seems to only occur at the mid-latitudes.

Pic by Paul Zizka/Caters News

“It is usually whiteish to purplish to the naked eye and has a distinct purple tinge in-camera.

“It always shows accompanying an aurora borealis display but always perpendicularly. For example the aurora oval will stretch over the northern horizon, East to West, while Steve stretches North to South.

Pic by Paul Zizka/Caters News

“The arc is very static compared to the aurora. It’ll often stay in the same spot for 15 minutes or more. This makes it in a way much easier to photograph than the aurora.

“It was initially referred to as a proton arc but apparently it is not. It seems scientists do not yet know its origin.

Pic by Paul Zizka/Caters News

“Through social media we realised that others who are part of the Alberta Aurora Chasers Facebook group had seen it and photographed it too.

“It is in that group that we started calling the feature “Steve” so we had a way to refer to it.”